I have been inspecting residential homes for a couple years. I just received a request to inspect what I would consider a commercial property. It consists of a 2200 sq.ft. shop/outbuilding and a 200 sq ft office. Open zoning allows for a multitude of uses. Diesel Storage on property. The buyer is particularly interested in the electrical/plumbing. Should I accept this inspection and if so, should I hire an electrician/plumber? I’m not sure my residential rates would cover subcontractors. Thoughts?

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If you have any confidence in your abilities at all, ABSOLUTELY!! These are the types of jobs that you need to break into Commercial properties.

Any idea what kind of shop it is/was? Top of my head, the only concern, but not enough to hire a Sparky, is if it has three-phase service. For this size facility, it is 50/50. Simply inspect what you can, take lots of pics, (can never take too many when learning), of everything else, and post your questions here for help.

Plumbing, should not be much different from Residential, except for specific Codes, and Fire Suppression (if any). Again… pics… pics… pics!!

Good luck!!


Ahhh No. let’s see:
Toilet carriers
Flushometer valves
Pulled copper fittings
No hub cast iron
Urinals and carriers
Multi fixture draining and venting
Trap primers
Continuous waste and vent
Three compartment sink
Commercial food grinder
Floor sinks
Drinking fountain or water coolers
Interceptors and separators
Hangers, don’t even get me started on hangers
Just to name a few

Do you want to talk about processed piping along with chillers?

Not the same !

There is a reason the IPC directs plumbing codes to chapter 25 to 33 of the Residential Code for one and two family dwellings that are not more than three stories.

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You can not use residential inspection standards for a commercial job. They are not at all the same and there is a separate standard to follow.

If people don’t live there, it’s not residential.

Do you have Insurance for commercial work?
Do you have all the contracts and paperwork ready to do commercial work?
At the end of the day, there is probably more work than the job pays. If your going to start commercial work then get started.

As for outside contractors, that is how commercial inspections are performed. This one may be a small job but commercial clients need more and different information from the inspection. Talk to the client and see what his expectations are. If you can handle it, do it. Just remember, there are things like ADA that must be in place that are potential liability and expense to him. ie. The fuel tank…


Thank you all for your valuable insight! I would like to make the move to commercial but I want to have the training and resources behind me. Although this is a small job that I’m confident I could handle, I will likely pass on it. I will contact client today for more insight.

If you know an inspector that is Commercial qualified, check into teaming up with him/her and take advantage of any OTJ training!!


John, If you have not, take some of the InterNachi commercial inspection courses. I would also suggest the Advanced Electrical Inspection course. I do a fair amount of commercial inspections and they are very lucrative. I personally stay away from restaurants, bars etc. That leaves the warehouses, small shops, garages etc.
As David said, you need a separate contract/agreement for commercial and you should review these with your attorney and insurance carrier before getting started.
Ideally, a ride along as JJ said would be invaluable.
Good Luck!

Interesting… I love Restaurants and Bars! Talk about lucrative. Time is money and they take a lot more time if doing them properly. And Yes, I will do them when they are open and operating… for an additional fee!!! :grin: :grin:

You are correct, JJ. That’s why I don’t like to do them! I’m semi-retired and need time for my hobbies :wink:

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Work smart not hard!!
(One long day pays for a week of fishing)!! :wink: